Airport Board Moves Forward With Relocation Plans

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Some key players in the relocation of Bay County-Panama City International Airport are working overtime to fine-tune plans for the project, which could get off the ground by next year.

The Airport Board held a public workshop Saturday to introduce two new board members to the issue of relocation, and discuss new developments with veteran board members.

Officials with the consulting firms in charge of planning the relocation were on hand to spell out the benefits of relocating.

At least one veteran board member is still worried about the cost to taxpayers, while new members seem optimistic as long as all the benefits are as they seem.

"I wasn't for or against relocation. I'm now leaning more towards getting the facts for relocating, because if we can prove that it won't cost taxpayers then why not move it. But so far that hasn't been proven. We've seen some progress at this meeting. When they prove it, I will make up my mind," Jim Smallwood, an Airport Board member.

"I want to analyze it from the cost-benefit perspective to the community. That's why I wanted to be involved in make it more accessible and less expensive to get in and out of Panama City," says Bill Cramer, a newly appointed Board member.

Both men say they're waiting for the environmental impact study and cost-benefit analysis out this fall to make a final decision on relocation.